DAY AFTER DAY
The Willie company faced their most trying day October 23, when they climbed the Rocky Ridge during a fierce snowstorm. Some pioneers travelled all day and night, arriving at camp at 5am. Thirteen people died and were buried in a common grave at Rock Creek. Mette Mortensen recalled with admiration the service of her exhausted brothers, who “helped shovel the snow and picked the frozen ground” to dig the grave. Mette also recalled a gesture of great generosity and respect from her mother, Helena, at this time. She had helped wrap the bodies of those who died using the last of her hand woven linen sheets before the dirt was put in.
Something else about this day forever troubled Mette. She recalled: “The thing I regret most in all that terrible time was taking a piece of bread from a dead woman’s pocket. She was a woman I had walked with day after day, and I knew she had this bread she had not eaten.” Although the bread would have been wasted if it had remained in the woman’s pocket, Mette said, “I have always severely censured myself for taking it…May the Lord forgive a child so desperate for food.”